Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The crowds are gathering

November in Costa Rica is thought of as the shoulder season as far as the tourist industry is concerned.  As December speeds by that's changing.   On our way to southern Costa Rica and the Osa Peninsula, we decided to stop at one of the more "tourist heavy" areas - Manuel Antonio. We've been on the periphery up till now... a bit on the outskirts of the action and not in step with the winter travellers time line.  So, when we drove the 5 km from Quepos (where we are staying at a great pension) to Manuel Antonio National Park, the congestion of cars, tourist buses and the uninterrupted line of restaurants, hotels and souvenir shops shook us up a bit.  Eric and I have a quieter vision of this area formed when we travelled through nearly 18 years ago... which doesn't help.  The good news is that even though there are hordes of people here (us adding to the mix), the result is that it's actually easier to spot wildlife in the park!  Sounds counter-intuitive... but once in the park we could just stroll along the trails and when we came upon a group of people with their heads and cameras pointing up into the trees, we just looked up too and voila.. a sloth!.. a lizard!.. white-chested capuchin monkeys!.. another sloth with a baby (that was super cool)!.. and just as we were leaving... the beautiful Aracari.  It makes it easy to be a lazy naturalist.  The park is known for it's abundant wildlife and it's beautiful beaches and so we spent most of our time at the two beaches (the boys revolt at any mention of the word "hiking").  The beaches in the park are a combination of pristine white sand bracketed with black lava outcrops surrounded by tropical jungle hanging at the very edge (and monkeys hanging from the trees).  But in addition to Manual Antionio being a popular tourist spot... it was Sunday and Sunday is the day were all beaches around Costa Rica get filled with Costa Ricans enjoying their own beaches.  We arrived at the main beach fairly early in the day (as the boys had vetoed the walk to the lookout first) and it was a fairly secluded looking beach at that time... then it started to fill in... and started to fill in some more... and started to feel a bit like a finding Waldo picture.  The raccoons and capuchin monkeys started getting active too... looking for and stealing people's snacks.  A raccoon came upon Eric and I as we were watching the boys in the water and we didn't even notice... we had to wrestle our bag away from him!

Crocodiles at the Torcoles bridge on the way to Quepos


So adorable to see the baby.. can you see the sloth's claws?

Eric and I aren't sure if we are getting too accustomed to the beauty around here and starting to take it for granted... it's becoming far to normal... or if it's the dominance of the tourist infrastructure that encroaches and invades the scene to desensitize us a bit.  This is all still very pleasant and fairly easy travel... I think Eric and I are up for a bit more adventure (though we did have a bit of excitement when I went to the ATM and the bank stole my credit card! - just sucked it right back in that slot... I eventually got it back a few days later when the bank opened... but a note to all travelers in Costa Rica... grab your credit card fast!) but I think the boys are liking this atmosphere and they seem more comfortable with everything at the moment.  All that said, most of our time here in Quepos has been mainly enjoying this very relaxed hostel.  It has a pool and two little girls for the boys to play with and other travellers (mostly backpackers on longer travel journeys) for us to chat with.

We leave this morning (after putting  the last touches on the blog)  to head further down the coast to Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula.  It is much more low key... au natural... and we need to go by boat down a wide river (I think a 45 minute ride) to reach the small bay.

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